Yu Darvish has made five starts for the Chicago Cubs this season, none of the quality variety.
Darvish has come close a couple of times, including Saturday, when he lasted five innings and gave up five hits and three runs in a 6-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field.
After fighting their way back to the .500 mark in Friday’s series opener, the Cubs had their winning streak snapped at four and saw their record fall to 9-10. Darvish is the only Cubs pitcher without a quality start so far in the early going.
The Diamondbacks hit Darvish early. Despite an 18-mph wind blowing in, Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta hit back-to-back homers in the first inning, and the D’backs added another run in the third.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon pinch-hit for Darvish in the bottom of the fifth, ending the right-hander’s day at 88 pitches. Maddon called it a “National League” decision, as he tried to get something going on offense.
Darvish said he understood, but he was disappointed.
“I want to do [longer], definitely,” he said. “I understand. Baseball is different in the American League (where he played in the past). A little disappointed, but that’s National League.”
So here is where we stand with Darvish, who is in the second season of his six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs: He is 1-3 with a 5.96 ERA this year after going 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts last year, when his season was cut short in May by injury.
His longest outing this season was five innings April 15 at Miami.
“The fastball velocity came up as the game was going on,” Maddon said. “The breaking ball got sharper. I was surprised, the home runs they hit with the wind the way it was. Escobar crunched that thing, and then he gets two quick strikes on Peralta and he makes kind of the same pitch, and he hits a homer.
“So they got him quickly, and then [Arizona’s Zack] Greinke pitched so well. So, yeah, I thought keeping it at 3, which Yu did do, is not a bad thing. We just could not get to Greinke. He was keeping us off-balance. Had we been able to get back into the game, I think Yu’s performance would have been looked on more favorably. Actually, he did settle down and do a pretty good job.”
Darvish said the first two innings defined things.
“The first couple innings, I was struggling for command,” he said. “Other than that, I felt not bad.”
Greinke (3-1) gave up three hits in six innings. Jason Heyward battled Greinke in the fourth, but was called out on strikes with two on base.
“Just doing what he does as far as mixing and matching, trying to be deceptive, throwing pitches in and out of the zone,” Heyward said of Greinke. “I got to see everything today. He’s able to make that last pitch on me. You’ve got to tip your hat. He made that perfect pitch. Obviously, it would have been nice to come through there.”
Heyward is on his own big contract with the Cubs, so he knows what Darvish is going through.
“For one, expectations, you’re never going to reach them,” he said. “Keeping it simple. Don’t try and reach for that. Just go out there and be yourself.”